Fire station could be future alehouse

Artist’s rendering of what the new restaurant may look like. - Courtesy graphic
Artist’s rendering of what the new restaurant may look like.
— image credit: Courtesy graphic

An alehouse with the charm of an old fire station is the ideal for the future of Fire Station No. 1 on Pacific Avenue as seen by business partners Elie Benaron and Bryan Chrey.

“I think Elie’s number one choice would be to make it into a pub like Pyramid Alehouse,” Chrey said.

Benaron and Chrey presented their proposal to Bremerton City Council Wednesday, citing the restaurant/pub as their first choice if they were to acquire the building, followed by retail space as a second option.

Councilman Mike Short asked Chrey if the restaurant would include its own brewery to which Chrey replied that it is the ideal, but not a guarantee. Chrey said the pair are negotiating to have a microbrewery on-site and would prefer to have one, but cannot say that it is a certainty.

What is for certain is the pub would take on the character of similar firehouse redesigns found in Orting and Tacoma. Benaron and Chrey hired general contractor Duren Construction to look into the property, a company that has made the transition for firehouses before.

“They have been successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams,” Chrey said.

The partners have a history of commercial experience in Bremerton with Chrey owning Chrey’s Jewelers on Pacific Avenue and Benaron wholesaling diamonds in Bremerton and Seattle from his California business for the past 15 years.

Benaron said there are problems to tackle in the building such as oil leaks, asbestos and lead paint that needs to be removed but he is up to the task.

“I’m willing to do the work,” Benaron said. “I have the willingness and the funds to do it.”

Benaron also committed to keeping 95 percent of the building intact, only making changes to the interior. He said the restaurant would take 12-18 months to complete.

Council members Cecil McConnell and Carol Arends each told the businessmen they were generally impressed with the proposal but would like to see more detail. One of the biggest concerns for a restaurant that would seat 100 patrons is parking.

Benaron said they may try to lease from Diamond Parking who owns a lot behind the station or convert a brick building next door into a parking area.

Chrey added that the new Navy parking garage downtown will be available to the public after 5 p.m.

When asked where he would acquire fire memorabilia for the restaurant’s decor, Benaron simply replied, “e-bay.”

“Anything you want, you can get on e-bay today,” he said.

Benaron said he has prior restaurant experience he can draw from, owning an eatery 20 years ago and calling it a passion of his.

The owner of Lexus Diamond in Los Angeles also said he feels the timing is right to open such a business, as Bremerton continues its growth including the upcoming Eastpark redevelopment less than two miles away from the station.

Council President Daren Nygren announced the council’s plans to have the pair return along with representatives of the Fire Service Museum of the Northwest and Port of Bremerton’s proposal. Each would give a final presentation the night of the council’s upcoming decision on which group will get to purchase the building.

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